Wednesday, November 25, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 15.32: Relatives & Strangers

atiite 'dhvani saMvRttaH
sva-jano hi janas tava
a-praapte c'aadhvani janaH
sva-janas te bhaviShyati

- = = - - = = =
- - = - - = - -
= = = = - - - =
- - = = - = - -

For one who turned on a bygone road

Into a relative, is a stranger to you;

And a stranger, on a road to come,

Will become your relative.

For example, in producing four children who are a nephew and three nieces to me, my brother's wife turned me many years ago into a relative of her parents and siblings, none of whom I have ever even met. I don't even know their names. If I bumped into any of them in the street, I would not have the first inkling that we were in any way related.

Again, those four Cross's produced by my brother, along with my own two sons, could cause my DNA to mingle in future with the DNA of anybody from an artic eskimo to a New Zealand maori.

So the Buddha in this verse is pointing to a truth that every human being on the planet can figure out for himself or herself, with reference to his or her family tree -- be it known or unknown.

And in the light of this truth a whole shit-pile of human ideas -- from African tribalism, to the caste system in India, to the Jewish (and later Scottish) story of God picking out a particular people with whom to enter into a covenant -- are seen for what they are: just unwholesome human ideas (ashubhaa vitarkaaH).

It is sometimes said that the existence or non-existence of God is not a matter for scientific investigation. But God, as I see it, is a human idea. And when God is investigated scientifically as such, in the laboratory of accepting and using the self, the wisdom becomes apparent of Ashvaghosha's choice of canto title: vitarka-prahaaNa, Giving Up an Idea.

EH Johnston:
For in the past your kinsman (in this existence) was a stranger and in the future a stranger (in this existence) will become your kinsman.

Linda Covill:
For on the road already traveled, someone who is now family was then a stranger, and on the road to come a stranger will be family.

atiite = loc. atiita: mfn. gone by , past , passed away , dead; n. the past
adhvani = loc. advan: m. a road , way , orbit ; a journey , course ; distance ; time
saMvRttaH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. approached near to , arrived; happened , occurred , passed ; fulfilled (as a wish); become , grown (with nom.)
saM-√ vRt : to turn or go towards , approach near to , arrive at ; to meet , encounter ; to take shape , come into being ; to be , exist ; to become , grow , get (with nom.)

sva-janaH (nom. sg.): m. a man of one's own people , kinsman
saMvRttaH sva-janaH (nom. sg. m.): "one who has become a relative," a relative by marriage; an in-law
hi: for
janaH (nom. sg.): m. a person, a common person, one of the people
tava (gen. sg.): of you, your

a-praapte = loc. a-praapta: mfn. unobtained , unarrived
ca: and
adhvani = loc. advan: m. a road ,
janaH (nom. sg.): m. a person, a common person, one of the people

sva-janaH (nom. sg.): m. a man of one's own people , kinsman
te (gen. sg.): of you, your
bhaviShyati (3rd pers. sg. future bhuu): he will be, become

No comments: